For years, my whole entire life has revolved around my to-do list. Every single college assignment and deadline I dealt with can be mapped out through my to-do software. Now that school is just a part of my past and I’m out working on my own projects and companies, I find my reliance on this list higher than ever.
Yet, there has always been one massive issue that has plagued my entire system. Whenever there was an item on the list that wasn’t completed on time – usually large tasks that should actually be broken down into more “digestible” pieces – it tended to sit there for many days after the due date. Or weeks. Or literally months. If it was an activity or task that I simply wanted to do, it would eventually be crossed off the list a few weeks later. Or if it was something for a client, it would finally be completed once the client turned fiery red and made sure it was completed within the hour (with apologies abound from yours truly).
After toiling around solutions for what feels like ages, it seems that I have finally stumbled across the solution to this problem that has dragged on for far too long. It takes a bit of self-discipline, but it becomes second nature over time and the reward is truly invaluable. The best part? It only requires a few minutes of your time every day.
At the end of every day, open up your to-do list program (or the piece of paper you use – whatever you’re into). For any items that have a deadline of “today” and still haven’t been completed, you a decision to make: be frank with yourself and set a later deadline or stay up and complete the task.
In some sense, this is taking the major tenets of the Inbox Zero mailbox method. It’s a matter of staying ahead of the curve and not letting things pile up into a mess that simply cannot be handled.
Try this out for a few weeks and let me know how it works for you. It’s definitely changed my productivity level and forced a few late night get-things-done sessions.
Scott Buscemi is the founder of Luminary Web Strategies and a writer for 9to5mac.com.